Hidden Noise: the Talking Buildings Project
Julio Morales, Natasha Ogunji, Zane Vella
This is a series of five site-specific installations throughout San Francisco that feature the voices and stories of neighborhoods in transition. Made audible through a collaboration between the artists and the Youth in Action Video Crew, Hidden Noise explores the intertwined narratives of community, memory, gentrification, displacement, ghosts, and redevelopment through the tales of inanimate objects.

Morales, Ogunji, and Vella came together over the course of the URL investigation with a shared interest in these narratives. Direct experience and deliberate investigation in a wide range of cities including San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Boston, and Tijuana led to a desire to develop a public art project which would raise awareness of both the forgotten and the current urban environment. Perhaps most importantly, Hidden Noise attempts to make visible the contemporary urban context of constant change.

To live in San Francisco at this turn of the century is to witness a stupendous rate of growth and change in the city. Empty lots are transformed into high-rent, four-story apartment condominiums within weeks. Dilapidated warehouses are destroyed overnight and replaced within months by high-rises.  Almost all remnants of San Francisco's port culture have been replaced by thematic shopping and residential developments.  Morales, Ogunji, and Vella decided to work with youth from the outset of the project and began their investigation with a simple premise: "What if buildings could talk? What would we hear about how neighborhoods changed and didn't? Who would emerge as the characters, the heroes, the villains?"

Teaming up with Youth in Action, a part of the San Francisco Conservation Corps, Morales, Ogunji, and Vella developed a series of workshops in which young people conduct interviews with local residents and business people, document neighborhood development, and think critically about urban development. The artists and youths experimented with sound- and image-editing tools to create the hidden noise you will find installed at sites across the city.  As you listen to the voices of people and the sounds of places long forgotten, remember to take a moment to appreciate those that remain.

Installation locations include the San Cristina Building at 1000 Market Street at Golden Gate,  2811 Mission Street at 24th (the doorway of Balazo Gallery), and Ethnic Trip at 201 Octavia at Page.  Site maps are available at Southern Exposure.  The audio files will shortly be available for download here.